There is no doubt that video is incredible. This is a guide to get you started with video, CHEAP. Whether you want to start a YouTube channel, are looking to be more consistent with your video presence or just want to rock your Instagram or Facebook live video. I am going to show you how to learn from my mistakes, make the most of what you have already and jump in. No excuses. It doesn’t matter if you are creating videos for YouTube, or just want your Instagram stories to POP. The principles are the same.
In the years I have been on YouTube I have made a ton of mistakes. I made most of those in my first few months. This guide is to help you avoid wasting time and money. Oh, you want to know what some of my mistakes were…well, I bought gear I didn’t need, I was time wasted on things that made no difference, I was inconsistent in posting videos because I was caught up in being ‘perfect.’ In short, don’t be me. Getting stuck on the little details will hold you back from jumping into video. The best way to start a YouTube channel or incorporate video in any of your social platforms is to begin.
There are only a few main gear considerations that you even need to worry about to start. Use what you have and build as you go. DO NOT GET GEAR CRAZY! There are a few decisions you need to make, and then you are ready to jump in. You need to; 1. Pick a camera, 2. Decide on sound, 3. Find the light, 4. Keep it steady, 5. Pick your editing software. I will dive a little deeper into each area. I put together the exact equipment I use for you here.
1. Pick a Camera
You likely already have a camera that will work perfectly well. If you have an iPhone that is only a few years old the rear-facing camera and video options are going to give you all the quality you need to get started. Remember, if you are using a cellphone – use the rear facing camera in landscape mode (sideways) you will get the best image quality and the video will be the right size for YouTube. You do not need a multi-thousand dollar camera that shoots 4K video to get started, even if you want one. If you want a camera with a screen you can see, there are plenty of point and shoot class cameras that will do the job.
I started my channel using a Canon Gx7. It is a great point and shoot with good enough sound if you are shooting close to your camera. A huge bonus is that the screen flips up to the top so you can see your shot and keep an eye on your focus while you record.
PRO TIP– when using a flip-up screen do not forget to look INTO THE LENS. If you just look at yourself, you will come across on video like you are looking above your audience, rather than looking at them.
2.Decide on Sound
Poor sound is one of my biggest pet peeves. It took me a few videos to figure out that I had to turn off my fish tank filter to eliminate the annoying background noise while I filmed. The first step to good sound is picking the right time and location to film. If you are filming inside choose somewhere reasonably quiet. If you film outside you may want to have a lavalier mic (a small clip-on) clipped to the color of your shirt so that you can be heard if you are handholding your camera you will be close enough that this may not matter. If you are using a cell phone, make sure that whichever tripod you are using doesn’t block the microphone on the phone. You can also get a lavalier mic for $10-20 that goes right into your phone and provides excellent sound. I filmed for years with the mic in the camera I was using. It works great. I have recently switched my filming set up and am now further away from the camera and have a small on-camera mic like the one pictured above. The only reason I switched was that the distance between me and my camera increased. I encourage you to film a few videos first and see how your sound is. Don’t be afraid to make shifts to where you film to find the space that works best for you.
3. Find the light
If you want quality video, it has to be well lit. This does not mean you have to start spending money on lights. Your house should not look like you also film a reality TV show there. If you can film somewhere with a window, you have light. Just make sure that you are facing the window, the camera is facing you, and the camera is not casting a shadow on you while you are filming. If you entirely cannot shoot facing a window, you need to add a little light. I would start with my favorite little LIT clip. It is a dimmable, chargeable clip-on light that is the perfect size for filming from a phone, laptop or a camera. That little light makes life so much easier and I regularly use it instead of my more expensive stand lights. Why do I use my clip-on light more? Because I don’t have to set it up, take it down and put it away. the LIT clip is fast, easy and just get’s the job done. Start there and don’t waste your money elsewhere!
4. Keep It Steady
Shaky video is the worst. Remember The Blair Witch Project that had people getting motion sick in movie theatres? Don’t be the Blair Witch Project. If you are vlogging a quick and easy tip is to add a small tripod to the bottom of your camera and hold that. It gives you a bit more control and will smooth out the video. The same thing goes for your phone. Just use the tripod with a cell phone adaptor and keep it steady. Again, the tripod doesn’t need to be expensive. I have a selfie stick listed in my favorite products because it is useful for so many things, including as a tripod with the attached feet and it works for cell phones and small cameras! Did I mention it’s cheap?? Yea. That is an excellent place to start.
5. Pick Your Editing Software
This may sound intimidating, but it can be straightforward. Start with what you have. All Apple products come with iMovie, and most windows products come with Movie Maker. These are both free and simple ways to start editing your videos. I am an Apple die hard, and I still use iMovie to edit my videos. I have a quick intro, a short outro and edit out any fumbles on my part (well….sometimes I leave them in, but you get the point). Your editing doesn’t need to be cinematic, it can be done in the phone to keep your video moving along, at a reasonable length and allow you to clean up any small problems.
PRO-TIP – the better you plan your video the less you will have to edit. If you have a clear direction going into your video your edits will be much, much easier. You won’t be rearranging what you said or trying to create an introduction from nothing. If you want to take a look at my YouTube workflow checklist, you can download it below.
You’ve got this. Get out there and make some videos! When you have your channel up and running please find me on Instagram and YouTube and let me know what your channel is so I can check it out. As always I am here to help you make decisions and save you money. If there is anything I can do to help just let me know!
For all the latest from me please follow me on YouTube and don’t forget to download your workflow below!